Words about COVID-19 in Spanish are everywhere, nowadays. After overcoming the first outbreak of this pandemic, Spain is at cliff’s edge, again. Many districts in Madrid are in lockdown and other cities in the country will likely follow the capital, soon.

Because of this situation, our students will see a lot of words about COVID-19 in Spanish news, videos and podcasts. That’s why we bring you here some of these terms, their origins and curiosities about them.

Coronavirus: the king of virus

COVID-19 is an illness caused by a type of coronavirus. This kind of microorganisms is not unknown by humans. We’ve been suffering from them for centuries. But, why are they called ‘coronavirus’? Many people might think that its similarity with a king’s crown (corona ) is the reason for that name. However, this virus is more similar to a ‘solar crown’, that halo you can see when you look at the sun with your telescope.

We have some curious expressions that use this root. Coronarse can be used, ironically, when a person had a very bad performance. La coronilla is the top of your head and coronar is the moment when you surmount a mountain.



Words about COVID-19 in Spanish: cuarentena

Cuarentena is one of the most used words about COVID-19 in Spanish. The origin of this name comes from the Italian language, quaranta giorni (40 days). That’s the number of days a person had to be isolated during the Black death pandemic in Venice in the 14th century. Nowadays, it’s not necessary so much time, but the name is still used. In addition to this, it has a religious meaning, too: forty days were spent by Jesus in the desert.

Metaphorically, we can say poner algo o a alguien en cuarentena when you don’t trust somebody or you are not sure about something and you prefer not to be involved.

From ‘brote’ to ‘rebrote’

Un brote is the outbreak of a pandemic. We thought that we had overcome COVID-19 pandemic; now, we need to talk about un rebrote, though, a new outbreak. The origin of these words, comes from the Gothic term, ‘brut’ (sprout out). We usually use this word in agriculture, but also when water springs up, or when we have a new idea (brotar en la mente), or even when the violence is out of control (brote de violencia).

Words about COVID-19 in Spanish: vacuna

Here it is! Vacuna is maybe the most important of the words about COVID-19 in Spanish. The soonest we have a vaccine, the soonest we can go back to our normal lives. What’s the origin of its name? Curiously, cows. Las vacas used to suffer from smallpox and women who often milked these animals in 18th centuries, surprisingly, didn’t get sick from this illness. That’s what Edward Jenner found out. Those women were infected by cows’ smallpox, that was much less aggressive than humans’ one. That is why vacuna comes from vaca.

However, these important animals are not well treated by Spanish idioms. Ser más pesado que una vaca en brazos is to be an annoying or tiresome person; if someone is similar to una vaca mirando un tren they are in a daze; and ser más echado que una vaca is to be a lazy person.

As you can see, there are many words about COVID-19 in Spanish with a curious origin. If you want to learn more of them and idioms, just reserve a lesson at Spanishviaskype. You can also put them in practice in our conversational lessons. Nevertheless, if you want to try a trial lesson, don’t worry, we’ll be pleased to help you.